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School of Medicine takes steps toward accreditation

April has been a month full of major developments for the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine: Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean, submitted a 119-page evaluation for approval by the medical school accrediting body, and the school has named its founding Board of Governors and Chairs. “The process was exhilarating and fun, but huge,” Stanton said in an email in reference to the accreditation documents. “It required considerable collaboration and cooperation to make certain that we were all moving together even though we had many, many different working groups.” [caption id="attachment_18971" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The School of Medicine is on track to take in its first class of students in fall 2018. File Photo.[/caption] In regards to the founding governing bodies, Stanton said that the CEO of Hackensack Meridian and the former provost of Seton Hall, Dr. Larry Robinson, each selected seven members for the Board of Governors, who Stanton said have “specific fiscal, managerial and governance roles.” The Board of Governors, chaired by Joseph Simunovich, will also serve as advisers to the dean. Simunovich is currently the co-chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees. “It is an honor and a privilege to welcome Joseph Simunovich in his new role as chair of the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Board of Governors, along with the entire founding board,” Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said in a statement. “Each member brings a wealth of experience and insight that will be essential as we continue to develop and look forward to training the physicians of the future.” A search committee made up of eight physician leaders from both Hackensack and Meridian hospitals recommended current Hackensack and Meridian department chairs to Stanton for the Founding Chairs. Stanton made the final 19 selections out of the one or two recommendations each member of the committee submitted. According to Seton Hall’s website, each of the chairs will head a different aspect of medical education, “such as emergency medicine, surgery, cardiology, oncology, psychiatry and behavioral health, radiology and anesthesiology.” The Founding Chairs had their first meeting on April 7, during which they established three sub-committees to begin appointing faculty, finalize the chairs’ job descriptions, and establish clusters of departments organized by specialty area. Stanton said that she will also ask for input from the chairs for parts of the curriculum. According to Stanton, the plans for the medical school remain on schedule. The next steps include “hiring the faculty, finalizing the Faculty Guide and Bylaws, forming the faculty committees, developing the curriculum and hopefully getting ready for the site visit,” which will take place in June if the school receives positive news from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body. If all goes according to plan, the medical school campus, located on the border of Nutley and Clifton, will open its doors to its first 50-student class in fall 2018. Brianna Bernath can be reached at


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